Sunday, 10 October 2010

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly

I promise.

Things have been a bit busy recently. Pregnancy. Baby. Summer Holidays (god, what a shocker, I've never done one of those before). Phased school entry.

Now I have a bit of time to myself again I seem to be busier than ever. However, I need to start doing my PhD again, and I find that the more I write, the easier it gets. So, in anticipation of having to write Important, Serious things, I better start with some frivolous bloggy things.

Expect them soon. But maybe not too soon. I don't want to cause any disappointment.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


I've read the blog Needled for a while now, and find its mix of hills and wool and thoughtfulness most inspiring. I was greatly saddened to hear that its author, Kate, was taken very ill last month. Kate is very keen on owls, and was the inspiration for this. Get well soon!
It was intended for Child C, but has received much critical acclaim from A and B, so might end up with one of them. Until Child C is big enough to fight back!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

New tshirts

Inspired by numerous blogs on freezer paper stencils, I've done my own thing: Swallows on a maternity top for me, peregrine for ChildA, angler fish for ChildB. Child C will be lucky to get away with not being called Peregrine.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Celebrating boys

I've had a thought about writing about writing about my boys for a while, but the lovely Dana at MADE has finally spurred me on to it. When I was pregnant with Child A, I had hoped he would be a boy. Not from any innate preference towards boys per se, but because I wanted a boy first, so that any subsequent little girls I might have would have a big brother - something I feel was missing from my childhood. I didn't feel that luck would be on my side though: I am an oldest girl, as are my cousins. Mr Kinkatink's siblings all have girls first, and indeed, his oldest sibling is his (only) sister.

Once I had become the proud owner of a son, I became very aware of the second class status afforded to a lot of boys in families, where the assumption is always, as a mother, that you must have wanted a girl. Not at all! And when I got a second son, I was delighted, having well established, by then, an identity as the Mother of Boys. Now, there's a definite distinction to be made between MoBs and MoGs. That said, not all MoBs actually have boys, and vice versa - perhaps there should be an inbetween category for Mothers of TomBoys, or Mothers of MuddyGirls. What's interesting to me now is that I can't think of the equivalent for a gentle, unboyish boy that's not derogatory.

I remember, shortly after having Child B, sitting in a local park watching a big group of families, with maybe 20 children aged from 2ish to 10ish. The girls were playing all together, in a very complicated game that involved lots of bossing from older girls, disagreement, falling out, showing favourites and the like. None of them seemed very happy. The boys, by contrast, were hitting the hedge with sticks. All of them. For hours. Occasionally, they'd spontaneously run to hit a different bit of hedge. They looked so happy. At that moment, I knew where my allegiances lay.

One Two Three lovely boys, in the sunshine in Sidmouth.

And now there is a third progeny on the way, I'm getting lots more 'don't you want a girl next?' questions, which makes me feel very defensive of my little boys. But at the same time, it would be fun to have a little girl to make little dresses for. And little knickers with frilly bits to go over nappies. So I'm torn. Not helped by Child A wanting a brother and Child B wanting a sister (although they change their minds from day to day). One of the main reasons for me to want a girl is that there are so many more things to make for them - or so I thought: until Dana had her lovely 'Celebrate the Boy' month. Now I'm totally inspired to make lots and lots more lovely things for the boys in my life, instead of making things for other people's little girls. Oh alright then, as well as for other people's little girls. Thanks Dana. I'm really celebrating my boys!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

A blanket for Billy's brother's baby

Billy, of the jeans fame, is a boy child in my office. He has a brother EVEN younger than him, who, astonishingly, has gone forth and multiplied. As Billy's supervisor had given me the wool I made my boys jumpers from, it seem apposite to use it up to make a blanket for him.

It's stripey. It looks like an aeroplane blanket. It's very cuddly. And what's more, it's a dish cloth pattern. I hunted high and low for this, although I could I guess have worked it out myself. It's the sort of pattern that's so obvious it's not published. So on the off chance that you too have been hunting for it, it goes like this:

R1: Cast on 4
R2: Knit 4
R3: Knit 2, yarn over, knit to end of row.
Repeat until long enough on the diagonal.

R1: K1, K2tog, yarn over, K2tog, knit to end of row
Repeat until 4 stitches
cast off.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentine

Lego hearts. For the valentine who eschews anything romantic.

I got a heart shaped cheese. A heart shaped, unpasturised, mould ripened, soft cheese to be precise.

Don't tell the pregnancy police.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Quilts - a diversion from knitting

Something I've really noticed about the way I make things relates to how things are going in the rest of my life. When my (academic) work is going well, and I'm getting lots done, I'm happy to sit at home, picking slowly away at some major opus with tiddly needles and fiddly wool. At other times, I feel like work is a lot of effort, and have a need for more instant gratification. And that's often where sewing comes in.

Knitting, it must be said, is an excellent interstitial activity. As such, it's great for doing whilst you're doing something else. And that's really why I started to knit - so I could sit and watch crap telly without smoking. I love crap telly, but it's never quite enough by itself, is it? At uni, the something extra came by smoking - 'Enders and a fag, Blind Date and a fag. I imagine I smoked a whole bunch less through good films. Now I watch TV and knit. It's really the only time in the day when I have time out - after the boys have gone to bed, after we've had supper, the last hour or two before bedtime, I knit and watch TV. If I go to the cinema, I feel resentment that it's too dark to take my knitting. But then, there's dozens of films and tv series I've never quite watched properly because I'm only half looking.

For some reason, listening to the radio at the same time just isn't the same. And the blanket I knitted through the first season of the Wire (yes, we were late starters) was terribly tense.

Friends of ours are expecting twins in April, and so I've made a couple of little quilts for them. They had their first child a couple of years ago, and serendipitously, I made a quilt for them then too. I'd started blocks for a quilt many years ago, and touted it around Morroco with me, with Mr Kinkatink and the expectant twins father (long before he'd even met the mother). As with many craft projects, it then languished at the back of a cupboard for some considerable period of time. When I heard they were expecting Number 1, it seemed like a good opportunity to fish out the quilt and finish it off, at least in manageable cot size. I say this is serendipitous because the new wife's mum is a super duper knitter, and furnished them with every conceivable knitting accoutrement you can imagine, plus a few more. But no quilts. Precedent has thus been set with Number 1 and is being followed with Concurrent 2 and 3.

They're a good jumble of fabric - some proper fancy craft stuff, some old shirts from Mr Kinkatink and associated Kinkatink menfolk, some just bits and bobs from the back of the cupboard. The backing (and some of the squares) are from a charming stripy sheet I found in a charity shop (one twin's backing runs vertical, the other horizontal). We used to have sheets like that when I was a kid, and people who have seen it say 'ooh, we had sheets like that when I was a kid'. Hopefully now, two little girls in Manchester will look at similar sheets in the future, and say 'ooh, I had a quilt like that when I was a baby'. Happy days.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Baby Surprise Jackets

Something you read about in blogland, and see people mention quite often, without really knowing what they are, is the baby surprise jacket - another Elizabeth Zimmerman confection. The idea is they're knitted all in one piece, all in garter stitch, with the shaping formed by increases and decreases. It ends up looking like a cuttlefish but then folds up into a jacket. What a surprise!

Elizabeth Zimmerman seems to have a bit of a cult following, really since the seventies. I quite like how she writes, but can see how it might be really irritating to some. It's full of 'work will look strange, but trust me and PRESS ON' and the like. Her instructions for knitting turtle necks are 'carry on in rib until you can bear it no more'.

And because I seem to have to do 2 of everything at the moment, and because BSJ1 was so pleasing, and because I have a surfeit of sock wool, I decided to do a pink one too.

Two little BSJs. The blue one is destined for one of my oldest friends (most longstanding that is - she's only 7 weeks actually older than me, but is curiously touchy about it). The pink one is going to be kept just in case The Spawn is a Pink Spawn. I can't believe it would be, but you never know. Otherwise, it'll go to the first girlchild born after The Spawn. What lovely surprises!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Little jumpers

While Mr Kinkatink was in hospital, not much in the way of knitting got done. Not for want of trying, but curiously I found myself quite busy. Somehow I couldn't quite get round to picking something up and making it, although I did spend quite a lot of time browsing books and patterns, and thinking about what I might like to make.

At the same time, the pregnancy hormones were kicking in, and alongside them, the urge to tidy and organise (doesn't happen often), and to allocate projects for particular bits of yarn and fabric. I've been meaning to make the boys jumpers for ages, and remembering a big bag of cream chunky I'd been given seemed perfect. These are both those circular Elizabeth Zimmerman jumpers that you knit as three tubes and then knit together. Genius. The big one is 108 stitches round (and too big for Child A). The smaller one is 88. They're lovely and cuddly, and my two lovely boys look obligingly coordinating without being weirdly cloned in their not-matching jummies.

Needless to say, since Mr Kinkatink came out of hospital, I've been making stuff to the point of exhaustion. I think that probably I have a set amount of stuff I make a year, and if I have a lull, it's followed by a flurry. Or, more likely, if I have a flurry, it's followed by hiatus. I've also been making pairs of things. There'll be more on this later. Fortunately, I haven't made a pair of babies, so all the twin creations must have been inspired elsewhere.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Promises promises

Back in October I said I'd post again soon. I really meant it, but then circumstances prevailed against me. Mr Kinkatink got swine flu, and I spent a week being unsympathetic to his snuffle-snorting and then drove him to hospital where he spent a month in intensive care with pneumonia, a word which now appears as if by magic in my predictive texting. Hat no longer appears, the first preference now being ICU, and boring has been usurped by coping. Apparently he was the illest person in Bristol not to die - quite a claim to fame. Now every time he sneezes (although he couldn't for a few weeks, lacking the lung capacity) I flinch. Men with man flu are now vindicated.

At the same time, Child A developed an auto immune response to his minor dose of swine flu, known to the trade as HSP. This manifests as swollen joints, lesions, vomiting, headaches and possible kidney failure. For about three weeks he couldn't walk. He's had it before, and spent a couple of days in hospital then, but I wouldn't let them bring him in this time.

So, understandably perhaps, this didn't leave much time for crafting, although I had already laid the groundwork for a third major opus:

So yes, I spent November and December rotating between children's hospital, intensive care and midwife. I love the NHS, it's brilliant. And it's better than magic because it's real.

But now things are on the mend. Mr Kinkatink is out of hospital and on the mend. Child A is mostly fine, though there's the possibility of recurrence. As the scan shows, Child C is gestating nicely and the computer is still back in the dining room. One of these days we'll even get a radiator in here so I can post without wearing my coat. See you again soon.